I took the Starbucks challenge this morning and failed to identify which was the new instant brand of coffee and which was the freshly brewed. Having purchased Starbucks coffee beans by the pound for the last decade, I was excited when I saw a commercial on television announcing an instant brand of my favorite joe and an invitation for New Yorkers to take the “Starbucks Challenge” this weekend.
I was already awake before sunrise today because I am required by the City of New York’s Human Resources Administration to report to Goodwill Industries sharply at 9 a.m. for participation in the ‘back to work’ program. If I fail to show up, Mayor Bloomberg logs onto a laptop computer, accesses public assistance records, and cuts-off my $200 monthly stipend in food stamps.
There is a Starbucks in Downtown Brooklyn, just a few blocks from the Goodwill thrift shop, so I left the house early, wanting to get two free cups of coffee. I haven’t purchased Starbucks coffee beans since March when my lifesavings ran out, nor have I been foolish enough to spend upwards of three dollars for a cup for good strong coffee. I’ve survived on the Puerto Rican coffee Café Bustello since then. I forgot just how potent and eye-opening Starbucks coffee was until I took the challenge this morning.
“Oh my God this is good coffee,” I said after gulping down two Dixie cups of piping hot syrup-coffee. I felt my balls swell the minute it went down. “I bet this is the instant and this is the brewed.”
“Wrong!” The woman in the green apron proclaimed.
“How much is it?”
“Ten dollars for a dozen.”
“My heavens! That’s a steal,” I replied, pretending to be sold. I walked away towards the rear of the café and finished the second shot glass of what was the new instant coffee and wished that I had some more.
I chuckled watching an old, well-dressed white lady sitting near a side window next to the table where the Starbucks challenge was being offered. It seemed that she too couldn’t get enough of the free coffee. She took the challenge numerous times until eventually, the employee in the green apron offering the taste test got sick of her and offered just a tiny drop to refill her little Dixie cups, but she returned at least three times.
I waited for the silver canisters, similar to the ones in which Starbucks offers cream and milk, to empty. The employee vanished behind the bar for a refill of the fresh brewed coffee. Moments later, I found myself in an arm wrestling match with an old Jewish woman.
“You go first,” I said.
“Well thank you young man,” she said. “I do like this instant coffee.”
“I bet you do,” I proclaimed, quickly taking one last shot before refilling my little paper cup and heading out the door before being noticed by the official referee of the Starbucks challenge.